Monday, November 14, 2011

Woodland Animals Preview from Autumn and Me! Class Los Angeles

Great Horned Owl comes to our Mommy and Me!

Preview from the Woodland visitors from the finale of Autumn and Me! playgroup...much more to come!!  Molly Hoban used to work for the Los Angeles Zoo and due to budget cuts had no choice but to take in the rescue wildlife that would have no other home.  She told us that great horned owls live about a year in the wild, but with nurturing in a captive environment, up to 50!  This beauty is 36 years-old!  Molly came to the finale of our Autumn and Me! class with a handful of beautiful creatures we would not have ever seen this close otherwise.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scenes from Autumn and Me Playgroup: Acorn Fairies

It was the first days of November, and all of the grown ups went to the pumpkin patch to pick the last of the pumpkins for pies, breads, soups and snacks.

They were busy working when an Autumn fairy came to them and said it was time to start putting on coats and hats because November was soon to be cold and grey.

The grown ups heeded the words of the fairy and went home to gather the coats and hats, and they found their children were out, playing, all over the village.

Thank you especially to the Antonia family who helped this magical story come alive.
They wondered how they would ever gather all of the children in time before it got too cold and grey.

Just then an acorn child came to them and said that the small hands of little girls and boys would help gather their little ones and dress them with their beautiful coats and caps.

And that they did, and the acorn children celebrated Autumn with the loving children.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

{This Moment] A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Friday, October 21, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Warmth of Autumn

I recently read the October chapter in Amanda Blake Soule's book, The Rhythm of Family.  She talks about the darkness of the month, and I did sort of a double take because I couldn't instantly understand what she meant.  I get it of course, the day literally gets darker and cooler as a matter of fact.  I just always thought of it as the warmest of all seasons.

Autumn is our favorite season at home.  I vividly remember the smell and the feel of the air from childhood, it truly felt like a soul harvest.

Today, Autumn invites me to create a cozy home: light fires, light candles, carve pumpkins, roast pumpkin seeds, bake, watch browns, reds and yellows fly off trees.

A Rainy Day

Friday, October 7, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Are My Sunshine: A Scene from Paint with Me! Mommy and Me Art Class

The light opens up and I walk in,
The day invites me to begin,
I ask the day, "How shall I start?"
Says the day, "With a wish upon your heart."

From Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian

Mother and son.  The real kickback, why I love what I do. 

 The morning light is one of my favorite natural wonders.  This morning it was as if a single angelic ray spotlighted Jackson alone as he said goodbye to our "rainbow breaths".

By the end of the 4-week  
Paint with Me! playgroup,  Jackson has come to delight in putting the scarves back inside the basket from whence they came.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Waldorf Seasons: Michaelmas Festival

Though I have become more interested in Waldorf education over the years, I have admittedly glossed over the Michaelmas seasonal celebration in the Waldorf tradition.

I came across this really simple and informative article on The Magic Onions, and I am finding myself on board with Michaelmas (it always starts wee with me).

Why, because I believe children process the major themes of life through stories and celebrations, and this one seems pretty potent.

"Saint Michael is the archangel responsible for hurling Lucifer from Heaven...This equinox marks the beginning of darker days.  Since Michael is a herald of light, he is thought of as a protector during this time."

The way it has become expressed to children is the story of George slaying a dragon, which is adapted for children of different ages.  

Melissa recommends, Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman and Saint George and the Dragon by Geraldine McCaughrean and Nicki Palin.

Crafts, dragon bread and dramatic plays all easily accompany this celebration as well, to the Michaelmas Festival!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ema, Aba & Mishpokhe

Holidays have always been a delightful way to tell "time"with my daughter.  Mudi has been given the gift of exposure to several religions, which makes the year even more prolific.

Apples and honey, books and festive songs help us celebrate Roshashana.  The Shofar Calls to Us, a board book by Katherine Janus Kahn, and the songs of Cindy Paley have been invaluable for imbuing the meaning, culture and history of this time of year.

Happy Roshashana, Le Shana Tova!

Owls, foxes and skunks!

Autumn and Me! Family Class, Hollywood Hills, CA

A unique parent-and-me class (nannies and grannies too!) where will enjoy and explore Autumn together.
There will be messy nature play, crafting, pumpkin hunts, gnomes and at the final class we will meet some of nature's favorite woodland creatures (with a professional facilitator): owls, foxes, skunks and more.
Sundays 10AM, October 23rd-November 13th
for details :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Apple Cake and Autumn

Apple Sprites and  Pot Giveaway! at This Cosy Life

We love Autumn!  This year Mudi's class is studying apples, last year was pumpkins.  At home we recently read the beautifully illustrated story, The Apple Cake, by Nienke Van Hichtum. 

What a great way to take a trip to a simpler quieter place.  

The Apple Cake offers a wonderful moral of faith and doing good for goodness' sake without adding any provocative elements of fear or danger.  Included is also the recipe for baking an apple cake, which makes the story even richer.

We have also been telling our own stories through the wordless book, Autumn, by Gerda Muller.   At first, my excited-to-be-reading-on-her-own seven year-old was disappointed there were no words, however, we are both finding much stimulation, excitement and delight creating our own.  

We can feel the (best) weather in every detail of our original story, and actually there would be no room on the page.

And I am aware that Fall has not officially started yes.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra

I have heard it said and know to be true that children grow best with adults who continue to work on their own personal progress and growth.  

I do best, especially in my work with parents and children, when I observe without judgement.  

I am transformed by the idea tonight (from an old Hawkins lecture): framing creates reality.  How we (choose to) see something is how we experience it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Murky Water Play Today Hooray

A couple of moments from murky water play today, everyone! in the pool--oh, it's dirty, yaaaaaay!!!

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

(Can't help it--words!) she didn't want to be in that carseat, she was 'plainin pretty good...

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Monday, September 12, 2011

October Classes Are Enrolling, Playgroup Los Angeles

So happy it is nearly Fall, my favorite.  

October mommy-and-me classes are now enrolling at Playgroup Los Angeles.  

Please visit the site for details about these baby and toddler classes:

There is a limited time discount for early registration.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playgroup Playsilks!

Seven years have passed, babyhood has swiftly become childhood.  I love my little seven year-old.

And at such a time in her childhood, I am so grateful to begin and savor babyhood once more.

I am so fulfilled that my mommy-and-me playgroup crafts and dances with postnatal grace among the nursing, eating, discussing, cooing, crying and spitting-up.  

We dyed playsilks this week, and it is so nice to create what will become a treasured keepsake, a sense memory one day, of the fleeting time when our children were babies.  

My seven year-old has taught me that one day these silks will become the roof of a fort, mermaid tail, or a fairy's cape.  Today they are a teething toy, peek-a-boo game, and a colorful cave, a wormhole into a quiet world for just baby and me.

I Heart Wool Felters!

"it comes naturally as breathing"

Daria is an artist and mother of 3 who lives in Israel.  She has a great talent for felt, and is giving away one of her pieces on Natural Kids Blog.  You can read an interview with her there and comment for a chance to win the giveaway!

Friday, September 9, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

Can't help it (words): first time sitting, we turned around for a second and this is what we found!

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Meltdown Monday Giveaway at This Cosy Life

This Fairy Witch is by Lemka at Fairy Forest Crafts and is the Meltdown Monday Giveaway at This Cosy Life

My seven year-old is definitely the Halloween-in-July type (all year round really) so this Halloween sprite will definitely become an annual treasure!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I Didn't Do Any of That

At a certain point today, 

I had been so taken over with feelings that I had to force a pause to insert that the facts of the (then) present moment into my thinking (I was sitting in my yard with my (blissful!) baby.)  

~And instantly I travelled back into my (then) present moment, and it turned out, funny enough, I was looking right at this the whole time I was away fretting:

Mother Nature pointed out to me right then, not to worry about my fears.

Rainbows Have Nothing to Hide

I wish I had seen the double rainbow today, but I am so happy that my brother did (obviously Hollywood, nevertheless the rainbows are real):

I love you Reggie.

Friday, September 2, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

In Praise of Mud: A Little Dirt Won't Hurt

As next Thursday approaches, I am beginning to prepare for There Will Be Mud: Water Play with Me!.  I am plotting the logistics, and I am mostly hoping my yard does not turn into a mudpit--the mud must be contained!

I am tickled to have stumbled upon this enlightening article from the National Wildlife Federation, "It’s in the dirt!"   

It seems that in addition to the developmental benefits of playing with water and soil, the exposure to good bacteria in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which is known to make us relaxed and improve brain function.

Bottom line for me, it turns out, those parents who let their kids eat a little dirt aren't crazy at all (yes!), and they've got a bunch of relaxed and smart kids to show for it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Forest Kinder

“Our program is not us teaching them through play, but just allowing them to play, which helps them make the world their own.”

Thank goodness for the above excerpt from All Points North magazineit precisely articulates my sentiment  and the intention I have behind my creating and teaching classes.

What I do in my yard with families may not (at all) resemble a forest kinder, but it has the same heart, it is cut from the same thread.

I am very humbled and grateful to be approaching the core of what I want to achieve in my work, which for me has been a twisted journey of question marks--maybe because I didn't go to a Forest Kindergarten, and rather went to School #2 (my daughter didn't believe me!).

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

--where that kid is sitting 

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Fairy Hunt, YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard!)

The other day I said to my neighbor, "I wish I were a woodsman so I could build (such and such)."  To which she replied, "Yes, but there are no woods here."

"Seven Fairies fly and play around the final clue today!"

For Mudi's 7th Birthday we had a Fairy Hunt in our yard, which is basically the front yard to the Hollywood sign and bustling city--everything became the silent woods all around as the magical letter was announced and the first clue read:

 "An enchanted doorway both far and near, fairies keep their ashes here.  For the girl who's turning seven, lie seven magical stones, sent from Heaven."

Seven clues with seven treasures.  Seven tiny fairy bouquets hide on an old gate that has itself been hidden by vines:

Hiding behind two big bushes, a white gate no one ever pushes; on the ledge, you will see, what you're looking for, clue number three."

The seven magical fairy stones were hidden in a chimney sweep, an enchanted doorway somehow  unnoticed.

It is delightful to find magic in every day, and it is rightly magical to see the Wood in Hollywood.

New Playgroup Los Angeles Baby and Toddler Classes Begin in 2 Weeks!

Babies are such blessings, it seems all of our lives expand in every way from the moment they arrive.

  I have been teaching classes for babies and toddlers (and kids and grown-ups too!) for years now really just to soak up more of that joy.  This year, I have been given the gift of having my own beautiful new baby, and with it, has come the birth of my own beautiful new classes, Playgroup Los Angeles.  

With the new addition, I want to offer valuable classes based on all of my work and education without traveling all over the city all the livelong day, as I have to date, so I can be closer to baby.  

Yes, one day there will be travel again, I am so grateful that some of you have asked, but for now please come and join me at home!

Please visit the website for the upcoming September classes, which start in just 2 weeks!  Summer really flew this year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I Give You Hazel and Pearls

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream,
And caught a little silver trout.

~William Butler Yeats

Hazelwood and pearl necklace, Mirth in the Tummy Tub!

Weeks before Mirth was born, I was teaching a class with new moms, and I asked them each to tell me what their favorite baby product has been as I was starting to prepare for baby.  Well, it could be my mommy brain, but I don't happen to remember a thing they recommended!  That being said, these are 2 things I have come across this time around that I can fully endorse on novelty alone:  the Hazelwood Necklace and the Tummy Tub.

Many of us, even in (or especially in) Los Angeles have become familiar with Amber Teething Necklaces; however, only few seem to be familiar with the Hazelwood Necklaces, and I am happy to add it to the (crunchy) parent must-have list.

As indicated in the poem above, many of us have quite the fire in the head when our babies are having discomfort,  especially digestive, and it is good to have an arsenal of tricks.  Enter the hazel wood necklace.  As the skin absorbs hazel wood, the body shifts to a more alkaline as opposed to acidic state, which makes happy spitter-uppers, if any at all.  Mirth had a low-grade fever for a couple days, and I decided on day two, after all the swimming she has done this summer--you are not supposed to wear in the pool--maybe we need to change her necklace.  Hours after I put on her newest hazel wood necklace, fever completely gone.  

The most visibly magical part of this necklace is the wood actually changes appearance from smooth and light to dark and lined, like a peeling tree trunk, as the body reacts with the hazel wood.   

For more details about the properties of hazel wood and amber teething necklaces, and/or to buy a hazel wood necklace for a baby, child or an adult, visit

As for the Tummy Tub, when I first saw it I was completely freaked out: crazy baby in a bucket, and yet days later, my mind demanded: must have it.  That's because it makes so much sense!  This tub mimics the fetal position, and with warm water, Mirth has found prenatal bliss in a bathtub.   It has been a go to for anything that may be troubling her; she calms  down (and has begun to splash and play with delight) 100% of the time we use it.  

(My other newborn must-haves are a pilates ball for bouncing, kiddopatumus swaddler, sheepskin mat for floor time, playsilks, and Cocyntal homeopathic remedy by Boiron.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

{This Moment} A Friday Ritual

I have adopted the "Friday Ritual" as seen on the crafty feminine mama blogs I have been following lately, and I hope you do too.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Please feel free to add your moment.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shouldn't Every Classroom Be Moveable?

This article is a must share, it made my night, especially because I have a daughter who was made for loving this classroom style.  These pictures are from Pinehill Waldorf School in New Hampshire, where they have decided to follow their European brothers (it's big in Europe!) and neuroscience and make a classroom where kids can wholly learn. So refreshing, inspiring and revolutionary to see the whole child, the child who loves to learn and needs to move, addressed in something so taken for granted, a desk.

Here is an excerpt:

"Evidence indicates, for example, that there is a connection between postural control and the executive function of attention. Postural control is the ability to stabilize the trunk, neck, and head so that skilled tasks, such as reading and writing, can occur. Executive functions (EFs)are cognitive abilities such as attention, self-control, and problem-solving that govern other learning tasks. In the early elementary years, if postural tone is weak (i.e., when a child’s body lacks sufficient muscle tension to maintain an upright position), there are greater demands placed on the executive system (i.e., a child needs her brain power to stabilize her balance rather than to focus on a lesson). This means that a child has fewer cognitive resources to use for paying attention. Slouching in a chair, fidgeting and wiggling, or flopping over a desk are symptoms of postural fatigue and therefore poor attention. So, when we help a child develop her postural control, her executive function of attention can switch over to learning."

My heart leaps because it is so obvious that in addition to all of the developmental neural boosting, it is just fertilizer for self-esteem: the owning a workspace that can be shared with a partner, used individually, turned upside down and balanced on, and carried across a room.  Please read this article.  The moveable classroom is amazing!  I have never seen anything more child friendly than a moveable classroom.  I sound like Dr. Suess.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Room of One's Own

Painted by Kimberly Culotta
"There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, 'Consume me'."
— Virginia Woolf 

This summer while Mudi was at an art class in Pasadena, I spent some afternoons at the Pasadena Waldorf School with Mirth not for any reason, but to take it in while the children weren't there, after all, I have become once again consumed by early childhood.

I snapped this with my phone on the walkway to a classroom literally moments after I was wondering...

We sat under glorious trees that never ended.   We spoke with John  who was sanding and renewing  children's desks.  He offered some leads on where to find logs for my classes.  His wife teaches string music at the school, and he's just lending a hand.

We  eavesdropped on childless classrooms that were imbued with a rich amber hue, and still had nature tables out offering imagination itself a place to play. 

Upon arrival one day, we visited the Wishing Well, and I was delighted with all of the handcrafted mobiles.  I  shared with Kaki, the store mom, that I already felt Mudi's room was too filled for another mobile even though...  Kaki offered a thought: how about changing the child's room to reflect the season, and what the child is processing at the moment?

What an obvious idea, and though I am pretty well-studied, it never occurred to me before.  So, shortly after that discussion, I took down half of the room, and left up that which reflected "summer" and turning seven.

An Octopus' Garden created by: Mudi at Create

Thanks to those visits to a childless Waldorf school in the heart of summer, I am inspired and rightly permitted to continue to (co)create the room that never ends.

Of course, the angel hanging over Mirth's changing table is a doll for all seasons.